What Is Viniyoga?
'The essence of my father's teaching is this: it is not that the person needs to accommodate him- or herself to yoga, but rather the yoga practice must be tailored to fit each person"
- T.K.V. Desikachar
Viniyoga is an authentic and traditional yoga approach, consisting of adapting the tools of yoga to a unique body mind.
Each person is unique
Each person is unique. In Viniyoga, optimally in a One on One setting, the practice is designed for that person, according to their personal needs, possibilities, limitations and interests.
Examples of elements that will vary are:
The choice of tools (postures & movement, breathing approach, chanting, meditation, inquiry, etc.)
The way in which all of the above are done
The sequencing of actions
The moment of day for the practice
The length of the practice
The themes chosen for meditation/inspiration
Awareness of breath and the link of breath and movement, prioritizing the breath and the spine, are present in every practice.
How can this be practiced in a group setting?
The best and the traditional way to practice Viniyoga is in a One on One setting.
That said, I lead groups where the sense of community plays an important part in the healing process.
In a group setting there are cues given by the teacher, and each participant is encouraged and guided to find their own rhythm to breathe and move, adjusting the practice to themselves.
The practices are taught to the people present in the session, considering their experience, limitations, potentials and interests.
Quoting yogawell.com (Yoga Well Institute):
There are different ways to explain what Viniyoga means. I find this one, published by Yoga Well Institute, very clear and accessible:
"In Sanskrit, Viniyoga means “appropriate application”. It is a holistic healing discipline that addresses the entire person (body, breath, mind, behaviors, emotions, & spirit) in an interconnected way. In this tradition, the tools of Yoga: āsana (movement & body position), prāṇāyāma (breathing), mantra, Vedic chanting, meditation, and more are modified to meet the individual needs and capacities of each person.
As such, this discipline offers a broad range of tools for supporting health, promoting healing, and facilitating personal development and transformation."
Quoting viniyoga.com (American Viniyoga Institute)
"What distinguishes Viniyoga from other forms of yoga?
There are four points that characterize the main difference between the Viniyoga approach and most other forms of āsana practice:
Function Over Form
The emphasis on function rather than form in āsana practice, and the science of adapting the forms of the postures to achieve different results.
Breath and Adaptation
The emphasis on breath as the medium for movement in āsana, and the science of adapting the pattern of breathing in āsana to produce different effects.
Repetition and Stay
The use of repetition into and out of the postures, as well as holding the postures.
Art and Science of Sequencing
The refined art and science of sequencing which allows teachers to create practices of different orientation, length, and intensity to suit the intention and context of each practice and/or practitioner".